Posted on: February 16, 2010 12:27 pm

Hurry up science

In time Science will likely reveal that...

...but nobody hold their breath.

For example, the last greatest thing was the Human Genome Project. Government and private labs all over were determining the sequence of the nitrogenous bases in bits and pieces of human DNA. Then they compared the sequence of their piece of DNA with sequences of others' pieces, found overlaps and, thereby, merged the sequences so as to learn bigger and bigger stretches. That process required the formation of The Internet. By now, they know the entire sequence of all the DNA in humans.

This was tauted to launch a New Medicine that could "cure" human pathologies by the thousands.

OK, but most of human DNA is "non-sense", or not-genes. So they had to find the "good stuff", the genes, which indirectly produce our traits by providing information for cells to make proteins. The proteins actually "do" our lives. But many genes are scattered here and there among all the DNA. So it's kind of like cutting a needle into hundreds of pieces, and throwing the pieces into a gigantic haystack. Then you have to find all the pieces in the haystack and reassemble the needle.

Even when a gene is determined, mostly they don't know what the protein it codes for does in the cells. Working this out is much more difficult than sequencing the gene in the first place. Way beyond that, is the problem that most proteins work together with many other proteins to produce their effects, like team sports. So knowing what a certain protein does in isolation is often not very useful. To complicate these little difficulties, genes get switched on and off in an individual depending on the person's developmental stage, and also on signals from the internal and external environment. So the proteins take turns doing their work kind of like line shifts in a hockey game.

So what we've ended up with is like a book written in an unknown language, and the letters of the book have been scrambled just for fun. Basically all we know is that the title of the book is: How to Produce a Human, Live its Life, Get Sick (and maybe recover), Make Kids, Get Old and Die.

Meanwhile, the economy has been souring like an old box of wine in a corner of a self-storage shed, so far less money is available to pursue the almost impossible research, and people are texting each other on Blackberries, or playing games on PlayStation instead of learning stuff at school.

Me, I take vitamin C for some unknown reason, and it seems not to hurt me too much (so far).
Category: General
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